Geoffrey Bennett obituary

Publié le par The Guardian - Norman Howard

The Guardianpublished 23/01/2013 at 18:01 GMT by Norman Howard

Despite three serious attempts, my friend Geoffrey Bennett, who has died aged 90, never became a member of parliament. Diligent, hard-working and radical, he would have made a very good Labour MP. Geoffrey could quickly identify social injustices and inequalities; he was never fobbed off by those in authority.

Geoffrey Bennett
In November 1962 he was the Labour candidate in a crucial parliamentary byelection in central Norfolk when the dominant issue was the common market. In this sprawling agricultural constituency, Geoffrey narrowly lost to Ian Gilmour, the Tory owner of the Spectator magazine. In the following general election in 1964, he was unable to improve his position.

The Labour party had high hopes that the adjoining constituency of South Norfolk could be won and Geoffrey was encouraged to become the new parliamentary candidate at the 1966 general election. He lost by 119 votes.

Geoffrey was born in Norwich. His father worked in the boot and shoe industry. Educated at the City of Norwich grammar school, he found work in the council's treasurer's department. Every Friday he would visit the various council depots to pay out the staff wages. He took a keen interest in dramatics and was active in the Maddermarket theatre.

At the outbreak of war in 1939, he volunteered for the RAF, but his colour blindness meant he was unable to fly. He became an airframe fitter, working on Wellington bombers, and was later posted to a Spitfire squadron.

After the war, an ambitious scheme created thousands of new teachers from among the demobilised service personnel. Geoffrey embarked on this venture at Culham College in Oxfordshire and remained in the educational field for the rest of his working life. He taught first at a London county council school in Westminster and later at Bonner Hill girls' school, Kingston upon Thames, becoming active in the National Union of Teachers and with the south-east examination boards.

Throughout his air force career, Geoffrey did not go overseas, so when an opportunity arose for a teacher exchange scheme to Brazil, he jumped at the offer. In Brazil he met Lucia. They married and returned to Britain and started a family.

He became a member of Kingston borough council before the new borough was formed under the London Government Act in 1965. He was also chairman of Kingston Labour party, a justice of the peace and a founder-member of Kingston CND.

Appointed warden of a teacher-training unit in Hounslow. Geoffrey enjoyed training hundreds of teachers employed by the council. He was never able to relax and put his feet up. He became chairman of the Hinchley Wood Residents' Association in Surrey and dealt with the numerous local planning problems that emerged in the community.

He is survived by Lucia and their sons, Geoffrey and Paul.

Publié dans Avis de décès

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